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The Chinese government thinks that Foxconn's employee union is one key towards improving working conditions at the company's plants. The government has demanded action from the company after a string of suicides at the company's Apple plant in Shenzhen.  (Source: Indy Media)
Foxconn's owners are facing their most serious criticism yet

Foxconn's Taiwanese owner Hon Hai has tried everything to curb the suicides at its Chinese Shenzhen plant -- anger rooms where employees can beat away their stress, soothing Buddhist music on the assembly line, counseling from monks, and, most recently, requiring employees to sign contract letters promising not to kill themselves (the letter has since been retracted).  However, none of those steps seems to have worked yet at stopping the suicides at the plant which manufactures most of the world's iPhones, iPods, and iPads.

On Saturday the top Communist Party official of Guangdong, Wang Yang demanded Foxconn clean up its act, arguing that improved unions could help the situation.  Yang, provincial party secretary, comments, "[The government and Hon Hai must] work together and take effective measures to prevent similar tragedies from happening again.  Labor unions in private firms should be improved to facilitate better working conditions and more harmonious relations between workers and employers."

Thus far 10 employees have taken their lives at the Shenzhen plant, which houses between 330,000 and 400,000 people.  Three others were seriously injured in suicide attempts.  Compared to the average suicide rate in China, this would seem rather normal.  However, workers in factories typically have a much lower suicide rate than the national average.  And the number of males committing suicides is unusual.  Rural females alone account for half of China's suicides in recent statistics, while urban females account for a portion of the remaining suicides.

Foxconn reportedly has been making employees work long overtime, sometimes unpaid.  Even as it made record profits, it also failed to give employees a promised raise in recent months, as well (entry level employees currently make around $132 a month).  There's even reports of company security details beating and harassing workers.

At this point Foxconn has at least committed to at last giving its employees their promised raise.  It has not said when it will implement the raise, but says "it should be very soon."  Particular raises are at the discretion of local management.  Company officials explain, "It would be an average 20% increase, which means some areas will be more than 20%."  

Meanwhile a probe into the company by Apple, HP, Dell, Sony, Nokia, and Nintendo continues.  Between scrutiny from its corporate partners and the Chinese government, pressure is building for Hon Hai to step in and improve its working conditions (better pay, shorter hours), even if that means cutting into its annual profit of NT$75.69B ($2.35B USD).



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RE: I knew
By Iaiken on 5/31/2010 3:09:49 PM , Rating: 3
Despute it all you like, what you are saying is wrong.

Even the Center for American Progress Action Fund 2009 findings on the subject based on US census data is against you:

http://images2.americanprogress.org/CAPAF/2009/02/...

The current Union premium is 11.5%.

Sure there are going to be areas where non-union workers make less (mostly Technology, Math & Engineering), but the majority of workers DO make significantly more. Especially once you branch out to include benefit and pension, in which cases the union premium can be as high as 35% (UAW and CAW).

That said, the average white collar at GM/Ford makes $50,000 more per year (sans benefits) than the average blue collar worker (including all benefits).

As for your proposal of me being against unions, I am both for and against aspects of unions just as I am both for and against aspects of management.

In many cases, North American Unions have outlived their usefulness because much of they fought for (and won) is now law that protect everyone and not just Union members. However, in places like China, unions can be invaluable when it comes to giving the workers the representation and bargaining power that they need.

Ultimately, the individual unions will succeed or fail on their own virtues and vices and since they are not about to be dismantled, we'll just have to wait and see what happens to the companies that depend upon their labour.


"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer














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